HC Deb 27 July 1999 vol 336 cc160-1W
Mr. Alan Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many students enrolled in full-time higher education courses in England and Wales in each of the years from 1993 to 1998; and how many such students failed to complete their courses in each of those years. [91930]

Mr. Mudie

The number of entrants to higher education courses, in each of these years, is given in the table.

1 The institutional coverage of the non-completion rates is restricted to the former UFC-funded universities in the UK and former polytechnics in England.

2 "Non-completion" covers all those leaving degree courses because of exam failure, ill health, personal and other reasons. It includes those switching to a lower level course but it excludes students transferring between degree courses or subjects.

3 Ranges are given, because the introduction of a new data source in 1994–95 made it difficult to measure non-completion, under existing definitions, accurately.

4 n/a = not available.

"Non-completion" covers those who leave full-time and sandwich first degree courses for various reasons including exam failure, but students who failed their final examinations are not separately identified. The non-completion rates relate to a narrower range of courses and have a different institutional coverage than the entrant figures shown. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to use the non-completion rates shown to estimate the number of entrants each year who did not complete.

The Department is currently working with the higher education funding bodies in the UK to develop a method of calculating non-completion rates which can be applied to all UK higher education institutions and which takes into account the non-traditional routes that some students follow. These routes may include changing courses or institutions, repeating years or leaving higher education for a year or more before continuing their studies.

It is intended to publish the results of this work in the next Departmental Annual Report.